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 March 2003

March 30

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tommy Dover, Tony Brennan, Andrew King, Ian Collard and "others"


An additional weekday update was posted on Monday March 24. 

Unfortunately the amount of material available for inclusion in the site is overwhelming the amount of time available for compilation once again. During the coming week there will again be at least one mid week update and possibly two. 

A notice will be posted on Irish Sea Ships Yahoo Group advising when the mid week update's] have been posted.


The third Irish Sea Shipping CD Rom which will cover the period from July to December 2001 will be made available during April, 2003. An announcement will be made in due course. The CD-ROM will feature almost 700 images and will sell for £12.95 inclusive of world wide first class shipping. In the meantime CDROMS 01 and 02 remain available.

A CD ROM featuring the wreck of the container ship MV CITA on Scilly during 1996 will also be released shortly. This CD ROM will comprise the images contained in ISSCD01 - however - this time they will be presented as very high quality images [The original images were originated on Kodak Photo CD from 35mm film] suitable for making large prints. Details soon - price expected to be around £7.95 inclusive of shipping.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - recommenced service on routes out of Douglas on Friday, March 28. She had arrived at Douglas in the early afternoon of March 26. He first service sailing was the 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool on Friday March 28.

RAPIDE - the 19:30 Troon - Belfast sailing was reported over an hour late arriving at Belfast on March 28 following an engine fault mid passage. She departed Troon on time. The previous evening she was reported running 45 minutes behind schedule. An observer had reported her running on time on March 27 her first day in service.


LADY OF MANN will now operate two Round the Island Cruises this spring. The Manxman Steamship Company Charter will operate on Saturday May 24, 2003. Departing Douglas at 19:00. Fare: £16 including refreshments.

The second trip will operate on Saturday June 14. The LADY OF MANN will depart Douglas at 14:30 returning at 18:30. Fare £10.00. This sailing will connect with sailings to and from Liverpool and also the LADY OF MANN's Church Army charter sailing from Heysham on the same day.

This second trip also coincides with the Mersey River Festival. Therefore anyone contemplating a Maritime orientated weekend break in the North West of England may find this date very attractive.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - A Round the Island Trip will be operated on Wednesday June 25, departing Douglas at 19:00.

Bookings for the above trips to Isle of Man Steam Packet Company: 01624 661661


A poll has been established on the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo Group to ascertain the preferred outcome of the decision by Sea Containers to dispose of the company. 

Click on the link to vote.


stena funnel.jpg (35484 bytes)STENA FORWARDER. The her Stena Line Fleet names have been deleted and her funnel has been repainted blue. [Photo: Tony Brennan}

It is expected that STENA FORWARDER will leave the Irish Sea around April 11 / 12 at the conclusion of her charter. She will be replaced by STENA TRANSPORTER until the delivery of STENA ADVENTURER in the summer.

The schedule for the slower STENA TRANSPORTER is shown below.

From Dublin


MWX -Not Mondays or Wednesdays







From Holyhead

MWX -Not Mondays or Wednesdays









It has been reported that the RMS MULHEIM wrecked last week near Sennen Cove, Cornwall is a total loss. The bulk cargo which comprises 2,200 tons of shredded scrap plastic will be removed by a salvage team.

However, on March 30, it was discovered that another 20 tonnes of diesel have been discovered, after all fuel was though to have been removed.

A coastguard team was airlifted onto the vessel on Saturday to open some of the cargo hatches, ready for the contents to be taken out.

But they have to complete the operation before the weather turns.

A coastguard spokeswoman said a mobile platform rig would be brought in mid-week, to assist in the removal of materials from the vessel.

She said: "They are trying to speed up the process before any bad weather as there's still a risk of the Mulheim breaking up."

If that happened, the plastic would pollute the Cornish coastline.

A conveyor belt will be used to remove one-tonne bags of the cargo.

Once the cargo and the fuel has been removed, the vessel will be left at the mercy of the sea as it cannot be removed from the rocks, according to the coastguard.

WICKLOW PORT NEWS from Tommy Dover

Coasters at Wicklow this week were POLAR SUN and SCOT RANGER. KILQUADE left the port early in the week bound for the west coast, possibly to work with the Air Corp.

Commissioner of Irish Lights tender GRANUAILE anchored in the bay on Monday night, departing early next morning.

The coastguard helicopter was also in the area on a training flight.


A report in Lloyds List this week suggests that administrators of Cenargo have declined advances made by Irish Ferries to acquire the troubled group's Irish Sea fleet. Last week the Sunday Times reported that Irish Continental Group plc was considering making an offer for the ships but not the company.

The administrators are reported to be restructuring the seafaring business of Cenargo. The company would then be returned to its shareholders under a revised ownership structure.

MERCHANT VENTURE which has recently returned to Merseyside after its brief operation for Norse Island Ferries is reported to be available for sale along with the company's Puttenham Priory HQ and a yacht. Administrators are also reported to be selling the logistic businesses.

March 24

Acknowledgements: Tony Brennan, Ian Collard. and "others".

I did not expect to be providing another large update so soon after yesterday's posting. However, there has been much to report and record and here is a second large helping! Make sure you check on "What's New" for all update information.

Given that Caledonian MacBrayne vessels are starting to appear on Merseyside in increasing numbers I have now created a new Caledonian MacBrayne gallery which contains existing Cal-Mac on Merseyside photographs which had appeared elsewhere on the site as well as the new LOCH PORTAIN photos. I am sure the increase in Cal-Mac's status on the site will be met with approval from the company's many fans on Merseyside and elsewhere.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

The company has announced strong fourth quarter and full year 2002 results. It has also confirmed its intention to sell the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

On March 24 Sea Containers Ltd. announced its results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2002.  For the quarter net earnings were $14 million ($0.67 per common share) on revenue of $410 million, compared with a loss of $9 million (loss of $0.49 per common share) on revenue of $239 million in the prior year period.  The revenue disparity results from consolidation of 100% of Silja revenue from May, 2002.  In 2001 Silja was only 50% owned while from May 2002 it was treated as 100% owned.

For the year ended December 31, 2002 net earnings were $41.9 million ($2.08 per common share) on revenue of $1.434 billion, compared with net earnings of $4.5 million ($0.24 per common share) on revenue of $1 billion in 2001.  Net earnings in 2001 were achieved through gains on asset sales while such gains were minimal in 2002.

EBITDA in 2002 was $230 million, in excess of earlier forecasts.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, President, said that 2002 results from passenger and freight operations at the EBIT level were $123.5 million, up 54% from 2001.  These profits were achieved from good performance by Silja, GNER, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and SeaStreak, offset by losses from some fast ferry operations in the Irish Sea and English Channel, notably Dover-Ostend and Belfast- Heysham.  The company has now ceased operations on both these routes and is seeking to deploy the two vessels elsewhere or sell them.

The company increased its shareholding in Silja from 50% to 100% in mid 2002 and had the benefit of the profits represented by the additional shareholding.

GNER also benefited from compensation payments made by Network Rail, the track and signalling provider, largely due to continuing delays caused to GNER trains arising out of defective infrastructure.  Part of this problem derives from the causes of the Hatfield rail disaster in October, 2000 and a track subsidence in Scotland.  The subsidence should be corrected within a few months.  These payments are intended to offset the loss of revenue caused by such delays so should be viewed as ordinary income.  GNER would obviously prefer to have the revenue instead of the compensation.

EBIT from container leasing and related activities was $28.3 million compared with $37 million in 2001.  The decline masks a significant improvement in lease outs in the second half of the year compared with the first.  Major positioning and repair expense was incurred in connection with movement of idle container stocks to demand locations and readying them for lease.  The company's share of EBIT of GE Sea Co SRL, its 50/50 joint venture with GE Capital Corporation, increased 15% from $17.6 million in 2001 to $20.2 million in 2002.

Quarter by quarter in 2002 showed the following progression in container earnings: Q1 was 19% less than Q4, 2001, Q2 was 54% less than Q1, Q3 was 76% more than Q2 and Q4 was 43% more than Q3.

In 2002, GE Sea Co purchased $160 million of containers, while Sea Containers separately purchased $15 million.  The separate purchases are largely in connection with lease purchase contracts which are excluded from the GE Sea Co joint venture.  A similar level of
purchasing by both companies is expected in 2003.  New container prices are rising due to steel and wooden floor shortages in Asia and this should help strengthen lease rates for older units.

Robert S. Ward, Senior Vice President - Container Leasing and President of GE Sea Co SRL, retired on January 31, 2003 after 34 years service.  Mr. Ward will remain as a consultant of the company for an indefinite period.  Angus R. Frew, 44, Vice President - Container Leasing, became President of GE Sea Co SRL from that date.  Mr. Frew is a graduate of the University of Durham and a chartered accountant, and he came to the company from the Seagrams Spirits and Wine Group where he was General Manager for Central and Eastern Europe.

The company reduced its investment in Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. to 47% of the common shares, effective November 14, 2002.  It now owns 14.4 million common shares in Orient-Express Hotels.  It does not plan currently to sell those shares because it believes they are seriously undervalued at today's market price.  The company believes that leisure travel will bounce back after the Iraq situation is resolved.  The company's share of net earnings of Orient-Express Hotels in 2002 was $14.7 million compared with $18.8 million in
2001.  It is the company's intention ultimately to exit this investment and employ the proceeds towards debt reduction and addition to working capital.

The company's plantations, property and publishing businesses which include the Corinth Canal in Greece, the Brasiluvas table grape farm in Brazil and the Illustrated London News, had a satisfactory year in 2002.

Mr. Sherwood said that the two important near term issues for the company were repayment of public debt falling due in mid-2003 ($159 million) and end 2004 ($99 million) and settlement of its claims against Network Rail in the U.K.

With respect to the public debt, the company has taken the following steps:

1.   It will file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week exchange offers for both the 2003 and 2004 debt.  Holders of the 2003 debt which currently carries interest rates of 9.5% to 10.5% p.a. will be offered new debt at 13% interest p.a. maturing

With respect to the 2004 public debt, this is subordinated and holders will be offered new senior debt carrying the same interest rate, 12.5% p.a., maturing in 2009. 

2.   It has put up for sale its Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ferry unit, its remaining port interests in the U.K. and its Charleston container manufacturing facility.  All three assets are
highly profitable.  The company has placed its own valuation on these assets of about $160 million after repayment of underlying debt. 

3.   It is negotiating a $160 million bank credit secured by the assets held for sale and other collateral so that asset sales, if necessary, do not have to be rushed.  This would be a one year standby bridge facility. 

As regards settlement of the rail claim, Mr. Sherwood said that further discussion had been held with Network Rail and the parties seemed to be about $30 million apart (which GNER has withheld from access charges).  Network Rail has agreed that any settlement could
be paid off through an increase in future access charges.  Discussions continue.

"At the end of the day, GNER is considered to be the best run major railway in the U.K. and it is important that this dispute be resolved and it be given security of tenure and be allowed to invest for improvement of its services," he said.

Looking forward to 2003 Mr. Sherwood said that current fuel prices arising from the Iraq situation would exacerbate usual first quarter losses from passenger and freight transport operations.  However, he expects fuel prices to be significantly lower as the company enters
its traditional high season.  He said that he expected container leasing earnings to be well up on year to year quarterly comparisons.  100% of Silja's traditional winter first quarter losses will be reported in the first quarter compared with only 50% in 2002, reflecting the changed ownership position.

Mr. Sherwood said that in summary, the company has recovered well in 2002 from the problems it encountered in 2001.  He suggested that investors consider the value of the company's investments in Silja, SeaStreak and GE Sea Co, the likely upside in its shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels, the value of its rail franchise in the U.K., savings which will arise from termination of loss making fast ferry services, growth of profits and debt reduction through sale of assets.

[JHL'S COMMENT: It would appear that the asking price of £150 million for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company quoted by the Sunday Times may be inaccurate. If one reads the above statement the disposal of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, The Charlestown container factory and the remaining UK port interests total $160 million. Quite a difference to the suggested original asking price for the IOMSPCO alone! One would therefore expect the Isle of Man Steam Packet to sell for considerably less than £150 million.]

SUPERSEACAT TWO did not take up service with the 21:00 sailing to Douglas on March 23. Her first service sailing was on the 10:30 sailing to Dublin. She arrived there at 14:50 and departed at 15:50. SSC2, unlike SSC3 does not fit the terminal passenger gangway. 

DIAMANT finally stood down after operating the 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool sailing on Monday March 24. At around 14:30 she crossed the Mersey and berthed at A&P Birkenhead.


Manx Radio announced that the Isle of Man Government is confident that the User Agreement will safeguard Manx interests with respect to possible sale of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Transport Minister, John Shimmin, says his Department had been aware that Sea Containers was trying to capitalise its assets and had been waiting for confirmation from it over this move.

He described the Packet as a "jewel in the crown" and would have to be considered in such a realisation of its assets.

If there was sale in the future, he said he hopes it would be a seamless operation without any complications to the Island.

He says the user agreement between the company and the Government, recently re-negotiated, would continue and be a safeguard as to the quantity and quality of travel to the Island.

He said a successful operation like this would be best run in the private sector and the Government with restrictions in the capital programme at the moment would not be looking to invest, however, they would look at every eventuality. 


LOCH PORTAIN - the new car ferry moved to the Mc Tay Marine fitting out berth at Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead on March 24.


STENA EUROPE is to feature in a new $6m movie entitled BALTIC STORM.

Starring Donald Sutherland and Greta Scaachi it focuses on the real- life Estonia ferry disaster, which sank in 1994, claiming 852 lives.

With finance from Welsh film company Aquarius, the producers used the passenger ferry on the busy Fishguard to Rosslare route as a back drop for some scenes after being turned away by other countries.

The film crew spent Monday through to Wednesday last week in Fishguard.

 Producer Juta Rabe said: "We have been shooting on the ferry, in the ferry and around the ferry.

"All the governments in the Baltic were very concerned that we were doing the film and did not want to spoil their reputations as being good ferry operators. But when we came to Fishguard they were very helpful in making everything possible for us here - it has been wonderful. Compared to all the difficulties that we have had in Sweden and
Estonia - here it was just like walking in the park. We have been helped by some very talent and knowledgeable people here.

Some residents secured parts as extras and with a cast and crew of more than 20 staying in the town there has been a boost to the local economy as well.

Relatives of the victims have never been satisfied with the official explanation of the disaster, which took place in the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Sweden.

The Estonia set off from the Estonian capital Tallinn on 27 September, 1994 at about 1900 local time with 989 passengers and crew on board.

Findings from the Joint Investigation Commission revealed that at approximately 01:00 local time, high seas tore off the bow visor, exposing the car ramp, which loosened, allowing the sea onto the car decks.

The ferry became unstable and capsized.

Ms Rabe added: "This was the last three days of filming and we have a rough cut ready.

"We have a release date in Germany for September and I think it will hopefully be out in the UK about the same time.

"Although the ferry was not a 100% double (for the Estonia) we will be using computer graphic images (CGI) to adjust that. When the film comes out, you will not be able to tell the difference."

March 23

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Philip Parker, Kevin Bennett, Tommy Dover and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

For some months there have been rumours circulating that Sea Containers may be wishing to exit ferry operations in the British Isles. The continuous fleet deployment changes have fuelled the rumour. Therefore it came as no surprise on Sunday March 23 the Sunday Times revealed that Sea Containers had engaged SG Corporate and Investment Banking to sell the business with a price tag of up to £150 million.

According to the report it appears that the sale may go to a private equity company with names such as ABN Amro Capital - owners of Commodore Ferries, Royal Bank of Scotland owners of Wightlink or JP Morgan owners of Red Funnel Ferries. 

Sea Containers have declined to comment on the sale, however, the company is due to report its financial results on March 24. 

SUPERSEACAT TWO departed Langton Lock in the early afternoon of March 23. She undertook some manoeuvres on the River off Victoria Tower before proceeding to Prince's Landing Stage where she arrived around 13:25. Almost two hours later she departed for trails prior to entering service on the 21:00 sailing to Douglas.


Last week comment was made on the fact that the harbour figures for February appeared to omit those for the Dublin route which was operated on two dates during the month. The Dublin passenger figures were contained within the total figure of 23,341. However the figure was omitted from the Route analysis section. Total passenger traffic for the Dublin sailings was 355.



Irish Continental Group is reported to be planning to make a €50m bid for eight ships which comprise the Irish Sea fleet of Cenargo International

The Sunday Times reports that the Chief Executive Eamonn Rothwell is not considering a bid for the debt ridden company. He said: “We are only interested in the Irish Sea interests of the company. We would not be interested in buying the company or the debt. We would only be interested in the ships and the slots on the route.”

Rothwell said he could not put a price on the assets because Cenargo International has not given him access to the relevant information. Industry sources suggest a price between €40m and €50m.

“The destiny of Cenargo’s businesses is the main thing occupying our industry at the moment in the Irish Sea area,” said Rothwell, adding that in financial terms, ICG is the strongest company in its peer group.

Cenargo International is not the only ferry company to have faced hard times recently.

P & O’s troubled fortunes have led to a significant fall in its share price over the last year.

At present ICG, P & O and Cenargo have slightly more than 25% of the roll-on/roll-off business in the Irish Sea, while Stena Line has about 20%. Described as a ferries and logistics group, Cenargo moved into shipping in 1982 and currently has 581 employees. Its Norse Merchant Ferries company runs three routes between Britain and Ireland and its Norse Irish Ferries subsidiary runs a passenger and freight service between Liverpool and

According to shipping analysts, the company was initially put into Chapter 11 protection in America by Michael Hendry, its English owner, in the hope that it could be kept reasonably intact. Three weeks later, in early February, it was put into the hands of British administrators.

The move was prompted by a threatened legal action by Royal Bank of Scotland in Britain. The appointment of administrators has led experts to conclude that the company is likely to be broken up. This makes it easier for potential purchasers such as ICG to make their play.


A report in the People indicates that Irish Ferries staff are hitting back at a strict new anti- drugs and drink policy which could involve testing of workers.

The company wants to prohibit all staff from being under the influence of drugs at work and to apply the motoring limits for alcohol.

It says safety in virtually all aspects of its operations is "not only paramount but governed by national and international regulations, laws and practice."

A spokesman for the ferry company said about 140 administrative, supervisory and sales staff, out of a total of 1,100 workers, are objecting to the introduction of the anti-drugs and alcohol testing measures.

Five meetings at local level have failed to resolve the row and the continuing stand-off is expected to result in the dispute being referred back to the Labour Court next month. SIPTU, on behalf of the clerical staff, told the court that there were clear distinctions and procedures between sea-going and shore-based workers.

It said shore-based workers in competing companies are not tested and there had been no previous drug or alcohol problem among the clerical staff.

Irish Ferries said that before disciplinary procedures would be invoked two managers had to believe a worker was drunk or under the influence of drugs.

It said that in the vast majority of agreements the issue of drugs or alcohol abuse was regarded as gross misconduct, warranting dismissal.

"All contracts of employment state, infer or imply that staff must be present for duty in a fit state and remain in such a state whilst on duty".

The Labour Court said if the agreement could not be reached by the end of this month the row could be referred back to the court for a recommendation.


Dscn0592.jpg (18602 bytes)

Stena Lynx III departed from A&P Birkenhead and left the Mersey on March 19 in en rooted to resume her seasonal service between Rosslare and Fishguard.. Photo Philip Parker



At about 05:00 on Saturday March 22, the cargo ship 'RMS Mulheim' with six crew on board ran aground north of Lands End at Pedn-men-du. The Polish master and crew of the vessel were all taken off the vessel.

The Antigua and Barbados registered vessel is 1,846 gross registered tonnes and is believed to be carrying a cargo (2200 tonnes) of scrap plastic from scrap cars. The vessel is reported holed and taking water, she has lost all her supply of diesel fuel which has been dispersed into the sea by the heavy swell.

A Salvage Control Unit has been set up in Penzance under the control of the Secretary of State's representative Robin Middleton working with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

A meeting chaired by Robin Middleton was held in Penzance attended by representatives from the following organisations, Salvage Manager (Wisjmuller Salvage), Owner/Insurers Representative, Counter Pollution and Salvage, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Environment Group, Cornwall Sea Fisheries, Coastguard Liaison Officer.

An initial assessment was made by the salvors and further assessments and inspections will made by the salvors and naval architects tomorrow to further assess whether the vessel can be salvaged

Secretary of State’s Representative, Robin Middleton said: “ This is a very unfortunate incident. Due to the rocky location and incoming swell, even on a very calm day, the vessel has sustained severe damage and re-floatation may not be possible. Our efforts will concentrate on removing remaining pollutants from the vessel, and carrying out detailed damage assessments.


LOCH PORTAIN - the Caledonian MacBrayne new build is due to move from the McTay yard to the company's fitting out berth at Vittoria Dock Birkenhead on March 24, according to the Mersey Docks movements list.


On Thursday March 20,  problems with an engine safety feature delayed the launch of the last vessel to be built at Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff.

A Harland and Wolff spokesman said German engineers were trying to correct the fault which led to the engines being shut down on the Strategic Sealift ro/ro vessel ANVIL POINT.

``The problem is a safety feature which detects oil mist. There was no problem with the engine, only with the safety detector and that's what is being seen to.``

The 22,000 tonne Anvil Point had been expected to leave Queen's Island last night but its departure was delayed after it developed the problem.

The second of two roll-on roll-off ferries built at the yard for an English shipping consortium as part of the Strategic Sealift initiative, the ship is managed by Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd, it was named by Wendy Parker, wife of consortium member Michael Parker, in a champagne ceremony in Belfast earlier this year.

Harland and Wolff management have stressed that this did not signal the beginning of the end but marked a new chapter in its 150 year history as it repositioned itself as a successful engineering services company.

The company's role as a leading shipbuilder effectively came to an end last year when the workforce was slashed to little more than 100. Its order book is now empty and there is little prospect of any more vessels being commissioned.

The once great yard has been haemorrhaging workers for decades. It hit its peak during World War Two when it employed 35,000 people.

Famous ships to have been built at the shipyard include the Titanic, the HMS Belfast, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle and the Canberra.

March 18

Acknowledgements: Ian Collard, Gwil Jones and "others"
SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT ONE which departed from A&P Birkenhead on Friday evening arrived at Newhaven on Saturday.

SUPERSEACAT TWO work appears to be well underway at Langton Dock to prepare SSC2 for her re-entry into service. The vessel which is now UK flagged and registered in Liverpool. The ship is also believed to be registered in the name of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, rather than Sea Containers. 

This will be the first Liverpool registered vessel on Steam Packet service since the brief return (on charter) of the car ferry BEN-MY-CHREE for TT service.

SUPERSEACAT TWO's  first service sailing is expected to be on the 21:00 Liverpool to Douglas sailing on Sunday March 23. 

DIAMANT - her final Irish Sea sailing is likely to be this Sunday's 10:30 departure to Dublin and the 15:30 return.


LE ORLA [P41] is expected to visit Barry on March 20.


The Jeanie Johnston, set sail from Tenerife in the Canary Islands for the US on Friday, March 14, 2003.

Under Captain Tom McCarthy, the ship departed with a new complement of sail trainees - including those under the auspices of the International Fund for Ireland - who joined the Jeanie Johnston in Tenerife for the voyage to the US.

The ship will stop off at the island of La Gomera in the Canaries and then, San Salvador in the Bahamas - Columbus' first landfall in the 'new world' - from where the Jeanie Johnston will sail for West Palm Beach in Florida.

Weather encountered very early on in the voyage (en-route to Tenerife) was often extreme with the crew often battling through gale force 9 and 10 winds.

Those difficulties are now well behind.

For the captain's reports; Bosun's feedback and perspectives from some of the crew on-board visit reports from the ship. These will normally be up-dated / added to daily.

The Jeanie Johnston – 2003 Historic Voyage Itinerary

The first 9 ports the ship will visit during her historic voyage to North America 2003 are as West Palm Beach, Florida: arriving, April 17th and departing April 28th; Savannah, Georgia: arriving May 2nd and departing May 12th; Charleston, South Carolina: arriving May 15th, departing May 19th; Washington D.C.: arriving May 28, departing June 2; Baltimore, Maryland: arriving June 4, departing June 9; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: arriving June 12, departing June 23; Trenton, New Jersey: arriving June 23, departing June 26; Briston, Pennsylvania: arriving June 26, departing June 30 and New York, New York: arriving July 3, departing July 14.

Work continues on confirming the other ports the Jeanie Johnston will visit. As a broad outline, the ship will leave New York and move up along the East Coast taking in cities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and continue to areas north of Boston during August and September concluding her tour in Canada, home of the original Jeanie Johnston. She will then return home to Ireland in October.

March 16


Due to my late return from Dublin yesterday and compilation of a voyage report detailing yesterday's happenings on Sea Containers Liverpool - Dublin route this is a smaller than usual update. 

Further updates will be posted during the coming week. Visitors to the site are reminded that an additional update was posted on March 12. See "What's New" for full details.

I would like to thank several contributors who have forwarded material for the site. This will be posted along with other new items during the next few days.

At present I envisage a rolling programme of updates each evening for the next few days to play catch up with news and submissions.  There will be another update around 22:00 on Monday.


Ships of Mann web site has been updated with details of the latest edition which is out now.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT ONE undocked from A&P Birkenhead on the evening of March 14 and proceeded to Liverpool Landing Stage. DIAMANT moving off the stage for a while. SUPERSEACAT ONE then departed and DIAMANT returned to the Landing Stage.

SUPERSEACAT TWO arrived at Liverpool in the early hours of Sunday March 16, berthing at West Langton. She is expected to remain there for a few days whilst she is prepared for service on the Liverpool - Dublin and Liverpool - Douglas routes. The ship has now been reregistered in Liverpool and flies the red duster.

DIAMANT - the vessel operated her first Liverpool - Dublin sailing on March 15. Her return sailing from Dublin to Liverpool was operated light ship with passengers conveyed by STENA FORWARDER. DIAMANT's passengers for Douglas on Saturday March 15 and from Douglas on March 16 were transferred to the BEN-MY-CHREE and routed via Heysham. DIAMANT did sail for Dublin on Sunday with 438 passengers, slightly ahead of schedule and arrived in Dublin on time. She is also understood to have  departed Dublin on her return sailing to Liverpool on time.



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for February  2003 at 23,341 show a 21.5% increase on the figure for the same period in 2002 which was 19,216.

The year to date figure at 42,263 passengers shows a 13.3% increase over the same period in 2002 which was 37,299

During February car traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 19.3% from 6,110  vehicles to 7,288 vehicles.

Scheduled Routes show the following changes in passenger numbers for February:-


plus  12%






plus 8%





Freight Traffic:-

February commercial vehicles metreage increased by 0.1% from 33,932 metres to 33,977 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

"February 2003 passenger figures are again record figures for any February. The large increase on the Heysham route is partly attributable to the BEN-MY-CHREE being on overhaul for part of February 2003."

[JHL's COMMENT: Surprisingly there is no mention of the two scheduled sailings on the Dublin route during February made by the LADY OF MANN!]


ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY departed A&P Birkenhead on Thursday afternoon's tide.


MERCHANT VENTURE is reportedly heading back to the Mersey on one engine, starboard only, and with bow thruster problems. She departed from the Mersey as Cenargo's contribution to the Norse Island Ferries venture, even though many people with knowledge of the ship's past knew that she was suffering engine problems then.


The former Caledonian MacBrayne and later Sea Containers vessel CLAYMORE was in the news last week. Now operated by Pentland Ferries she is currently standing in for PENTALINA B.

 The ferry, which was returning from Scrabster lost power to her bow thrusters and was  marooned in the bay when she was unable to manoeuvre in the strong northerly winds. 

She was coming into the pier just after seven o'clock last night when her bow thrusters failed, after trying without success to get alongside. She was driven by the winds back into the bay into the shallower water towards the village.    

At one stage it looked like she was going to be driven ashore but she was pushed by the winds against  two boats moored in the bay (the Two Sisters and the Fara Lass) which prevented her going any further.      

The twelve passengers had to wait until for over two hours until the Longhope lifeboat arrived and took them off the ferry and put them ashore on the linkspan. 

Once the passengers were off Pentland Ferries Managing Director Andrew Banks took his workboat out and, working with the lifeboat managed to pull the Claymore back round into the wind and got her berthed safely alongside.  

March 12

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others".
SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

DIAMANT - has so far failed to operate a sailing from Liverpool to Dublin. One wonders why there has been no attempt to bring out the LADY OF MANN to cover these sailings. She has returned to her lay-up berth at Alexandra Dock, whilst passengers continue to be shuttled off to Holyhead. 

With the demise of the Norse Merchant Ferries Liverpool to Dublin passenger service, one would have thought that Sea Containers would have made the maximum effort to run a service rather than divert to the competition. Many passengers would probably prefer a longer crossing on the LADY OF MANN than the hassle of being bussed to Holyhead. It remains to be seen if sailings will resume on the Liverpool - Dublin route in time for the St.Patrick's Holiday Weekend. 

Irish Sea Shipping has heard rumours of two engineers being dispatched from Belgium to try and sort out DIAMANT's problems.


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS - has moved into the dry dock at A&P Birkenhead.


Irish Continental Group made a preliminary announcement of its results for the year ending December 31, 2002 on March 10:


Turnover for the year grew 9% to €325.8 million with the principal growth being in tourism traffic and container movements. EBITDA for the year was €63.2 million, up from €51.1 million the previous year while operating profit before goodwill charges for the year increased to €34.9 million compared with €26.2 million in 2001. The interest charge was down to €9.0 million from €11 million, reflecting reduced debt levels arising from our strong cash flow. Profit before tax for the year amounted to €24.1 million compared with €11.7 million the previous year. Following implementation of FRS19, which requires full provision for deferred tax there was a tax charge of €3.1 million (12.8%) compared with €1.5 million the previous year. Earnings per share were 78.3c, up 104%. Adjusted EPS, i.e. EPS before goodwill charges were 85.0c, up 65%.


In the seasonally more significant second half of the year, sales were €180.6 million (€160.0 million the previous year), EBITDA was 19% higher (€43.0 million vs €36.1 million) and profit before tax was €20.8 million compared with €13.4 million last year


We have decided to institute a share buyback as a means of delivering shareholder value. We had already been in the process of paying down debt (which had peaked at €214 million in June 2001) with the surplus liquidity available from our strong cash flow. In November and December of the year we acquired 2.16 million shares (8%) of the issued capital, at a cost of approximately €14.5 million. The Group will continue to focus on generating value for shareholders in the coming year.


In the light of the continuing share buyback programme it is proposed to adjust the level of dividend growth. The proposed final dividend is 12.825c per share. This is an increase of 12.5% on last year's final dividend making a total increase of 15% for the year. It is proposed to pay this dividend on 16 May 2003 to Shareholders on the Company's register on 22 April 2003.


The Ferries Division includes the activities of Irish Ferries, the ferry chartering business and the travel services activities. EBITDA in the division rose from €46.9m to €55.5m while profit before interest in the division was up 28% at €31.2 million (2001: €24.4 million) on turnover of €204.5 million (2001: €187.4 million).

Passenger revenue recovered from the adverse impact of foot & mouth disease the previous year while freight revenue was broadly unchanged for the year reflecting a slowdown in trade to and from Ireland. During the year we operated a total of 4,821 sailings, similar to the previous year's 4,867 sailings.

Irish Ferries - Passenger Revenue

In a tourism market influenced by world political and economic uncertainties our overall passenger numbers were unchanged on 2001 at 1.76 million. However, within this, car passengers increased by 5% offsetting an 8% decline in the lower yield foot passenger volumes. On the Dublin/Holyhead and Rosslare/Pembroke routes, passenger numbers were broadly unchanged at 1.54 million. On the Ireland/France route, passenger numbers were up 6% to 0.22 million.

Across our route network car carryings increased by 5% to 400,000 (2001: 382,000 cars). On the Dublin/Holyhead route, car carryings were up 4.6% while the Rosslare/Pembroke route saw an increase of 2.1%. Car volumes on the Ireland/France route were up 10.9% on the previous year.

Irish Ferries Roll-on Roll-off Freight Revenue

It was a more difficult year for RoRo freight than in recent years, evidenced by the filing for insolvency protection of one of our competitors on the Ireland-UK freight market. For us it was a year of consolidation on both corridors of the Irish Sea with our total carryings unchanged at 185,000 trucks. On the Dublin/Holyhead route, a 2.6% increase in freight units to 122,000 was achieved by m.v. Ulysses. On the Rosslare/Pembroke route there was a 6.4% decrease in carryings to 58,000 units due mainly to additional capacity from our principal competitor. On the Ireland/France route, 2,800 trucks were carried, in line with the previous year. Overall freight revenue was unchanged.


The 2,400 bed cruise ferry, m.v. "Pride of Bilbao", continued on bareboat charter to P&O Ferries and during the year we concluded an extension of the original 1993 charter for a further period of 5 years to October 2007. We have also chartered the m.v. "Isle of Innisfree" (now renamed the m.v. "Pride of Cherbourg") to P&O, for a period of 5 years from July 2002. This modern vessel operates a combined passenger and freight service between Portsmouth in the UK and Cherbourg in France replacing two older ferries. The charter of m.v. "Egnatia II" ended during the year and, in accordance with the charter agreement, ownership of the vessel transferred to the charterers.

Travel Services

Due to a continued difficult trading environment for the traditional High Street travel agent we restructured our agency division with the closure of 3 of our 9 branches and the transfer of their business to the remaining outlets. This will reduce costs substantially. however had another outstanding year with annual bookings up 82% in the last 12 months, generating substantial savings in distribution costs.


Our Container and Terminal Division comprises our lift on lift off freight network operated by Eucon, Eurofeeders and Feederlink together with our Container Terminal in Dublin (DFT). It was a year of continued progress in the division. Turnover was €122 million (€110.8 million the previous year). EBITDA rose from €4.2 million to €7.7 million while an operating profit before goodwill charges of €3.7 million was generated, up from €1.8 million in 2001. This result was achieved despite some once-off costs due to the redevelopment of the Dublin Container Terminal.

Container Lift-on Lift-off Freight

During the year we acquired Hudig & Kersten Continental Ireland Line ("HKCIL"), for a consideration of €3.8m. This infill acquisition complements our existing Ireland-Continent Service, Eucon. This acquisition, which was completed in July, has been successfully integrated into our existing container freight service. The acquisition increases our container fleet, strengthens our sales network particularly in Holland and also gives us greater flexibility in scheduling. As the operation has been fully and successfully integrated with our own operations is no longer separately identifiable and we have eliminated the goodwill on acquisition of €1.8 million via an immediate once-off charge to the profit and loss account.

Total container freight volumes carried on our own services rose 20% to 444,000 twenty-foot equivalent units as we incorporated HKCIL into our operation. On a like for like basis, the underlying increase in volume was 11%, the growth principally in feeder traffic. The pricing environment, particularly for export cargo from Ireland remains difficult.

Dublin Container Terminal

During the year we commenced the third phase of our redevelopment of the terminal. Three additional mobile gantries and one additional Liebherr built ship to shore crane have been ordered and are being commissioned during 2003. This resulted in some additional once off costs in 2002. The development will not be complete until late in 2003 and in the meantime our capacity to grow volume will be somewhat restricted. When complete however it will copper-fasten DFT as the premier container terminal in the country. From 2004 onwards we will be well placed to resume strong volume and revenue growth at the terminal. The prospects for the terminal will be enhanced further when the Dublin Port Tunnel, which will be located only 1 km from our facility, opens in 2005, allowing rapid access to and from the port, bypassing the congested city centre.


In the light of the recent difficulties experienced by Ireland's tourism market we made a case, in 2001, to Government that we would be prepared to invest in new tonnage for our highly seasonal Continental ferry service if a public service obligation ("PSO") structure could be put in place, similar to that employed in other European peripheral regions. This proposal was not accepted. It is now of concern to us that our competitor Brittany Ferries appears to be utilising previously granted state aid for an expansion of their service between Ireland and France. This will severely damage the economics of our existing service and may lead to its closure. We have drawn this to the attention of the European Commission.


Deferred Taxation

In this preliminary statement we have implemented FRS19 Deferred Taxation. The implementation of FRS 19 means that the results and balance sheet for 2001 are restated. The effective tax rate for the year was 12.9% (12.8% the previous year restated).


In accordance with approved accounting standards, we continue to account for pensions in accordance with SSAP24. In the light of current stock market conditions we decided to accelerate the actuarial valuation of our pension schemes. Based on the updated actuarial valuation as at 1 April 2002 our SSAP24 pension credit reflected in these financial statements for 2002 has reduced by €3.3m, although the fund remains in surplus. There is also a surplus of €5.9 million on the FRS17 basis at 31 December 2002.


EBITDA amounted to €63.2 million for the year (2001: €51.1 million). Total investment in the year amounted to €15.4 million. Year-end net debt amounted to €157.4 million giving a comfortable gearing level of 85% (97% in 2001). Interest cover was 3.7 times (2001: 2.1 times). Year-end cash balances amounted to €14.6 million. Shareholders' funds at year-end amounted to €185.9 million.


The outlook for 2003 is clouded by the global economic and political environment, which remains uncertain. Tourism volumes in our markets have more or less recovered to the peak 2000 levels and the challenge now is a resumption in growth in tourism to Ireland. The outlook for RoRo and LoLo freight volumes will depend on world and European macroeconomic conditions, where prospects are somewhat unclear.

Following our recent investment programme over the last 5 years we now have one of the most modern fleets in short sea unitised shipping leaving us well positioned to compete in this challenging environment and make further progress in the current year.


All comparative figures are for the 12 month period to 31 December 2001 (unaudited) and the balance sheet as at that date (audited).

March 9

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Stapleton, Michael Pryce, John Williams, Tommy Dover, Ian Collard and "others".



The web links directories have been updated and existing links verified. As a consequence some links have been deleted. If your site was listed and has been deleted due to the fact that the broken link was returned during the verification process please email details and your details will be entered in the web links directory.


An additional update will be posted during the coming week on either Wednesday or Thursday.


If you are interested in coasters you should check out the Coastal Shipping web site at .

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

DIAMANT arrived on Merseyside this week from the Channel looking rather grubby and tired. However, it was pleasing to see another Incat on Merseyside. She commenced operation on Thursday evening with the 21:00 sailing to Douglas and return 07:00 sailing to Liverpool on March  7. However, her sailing to Dublin was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. She did not operate the 21:00 sailing to Douglas on Friday. Passengers being transferred to the 02:15 BEN-MY-CHREE sailing from Heysham on Saturday morning. 

On Saturday DIAMANT operated the 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool after positioning light ship, however, day trip passengers from Douglas were advised that due to the adverse weather conditions that the 21:00 sailing might not operate. The BEN-MY-CHREE was having one of her scheduled Saturday maintenance breaks so, therefore, diversion to the 02:15 sailing would not be possible. However, the 21:00 to Douglas did operate. Taking almost three and a half hours to completed the crossing in less than ideal conditions. Once again the Liverpool - Dublin sailing failed to operate due to the weather. 

On Sunday morning the 07:00 did not operate, the DIAMANT returning lightship to Liverpool. Outward passengers were diverted to ULYSSES whilst return passengers were diverted to HSS STENA EXPLORER. Around 11:00 a correspondent noted DIAMANT heading outbound from the Mersey to running tests for a couple of hours which appears to confirm suspicions related by other observers that the vessel is experiencing mechanical problems. She was back alongside the landing stage around 14:20.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - remains at A&P Birkenhead. It is understood that the damaged engine has now been lifted out. Following repairs it appears she will now be heading to the Baltic to partner SUPERSEACAT FOUR. SUPERSEACAT ONE had originally been due to move to the Baltic. 

SUPERSEACAT TWO - will now return to the Irish Sea, it is understood she will sail north next weekend and spend a week preparing for service and should enter service on the Liverpool - Dublin and Liverpool - Douglas routes within two weeks. Given that the ship has not moved for over eighteen months one hopes that she can be guaranteed to operate reliably as her history to date has been far from perfect being plagued by a variety of mechanical and structural problems.

SUPERSEACAT ONE - with SSC3 heading for the Baltic it appears that SSC1 could be deployed on Newhaven - Dieppe.

SEACAT SCOTLAND - which is due to be heading for the English Channel this summer is now in dry dock at A&P Birkenhead. 

SEACAT FRANCE has now moved in the A&P Birkenhead wet basin to the north quay.


It was confirmed this week that no tenders for a subsidy to operate a passenger and freight ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle have been received within the set deadline..

However, Deputy Transport Minister Lewis Macdonald said the Scottish Executive remains committed to exploring all feasible options to support the reinstatement of the ferry service.

These include further exploration of an approach from an interested party. Details of this approach remain commercially confidential, however the service would be provided within the terms and conditions of the original tender exercise.


HRH The Prince of Wales will visit the Historic Warships at Birkenhead on Monday March 10 where he will visit his former command the minesweeper HMS BRONNINGTON. The ship which was formerly on display at Manchester moved to the Warships Preservation Trust collection at  Birkenhead last summer.


Clansman130.jpg (53186 bytes)CLANSMAN departed from A&P Birkenhead around 13:00 on March 7, 2003 on completion of her refit. Photo: Ian Collard.





The company announced its preliminary financial results on March 3 for the year ending December 31, 2002.


  • Group turnover rose 4.1% to £273.0m (2001: £262.2m)
  • Underlying* profit before tax for the year £54.6m (2001: £55.6m);
  • Profit before tax £53.3m (2001: £57.5m))
  • Underlying earnings per share up 5.3% to 46.13p (2001: 43.81p);
  • Basic earnings per share 44.57p (2001: 45.96p)
  • Final dividend of 14.7p, making total for the year of 21.5p, up 4.9% (2001: 20.5p)
  • Continued strong cash flow
  • New container services secured at Liverpool and MTL, Dublin
  • Calculation of Worth at Princes Dock shows value of £90m; 3rd office block complete
    * before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items

Commenting on the results, Chairman Gordon Waddell said:

"The Group's performance in 2002 was satisfactory in the face of deteriorating global economic conditions. Given these conditions, few of the Group's customers are expecting significant growth in their businesses in 2003. However, the outlook in key market sectors is stable.

"The Group's recent programme of investment has created significant capacity for future growth in all key market sectors without the need for further major capital expenditure, and this reducing requirement should ensure improved cash generation in the current year. The Group's exposure to North America, which is overweight relative to its sector peers, has proved detrimental in the past two years, but this disadvantage will unwind in due course, and the Board is confident of progress consistent with any future upturn in the U.K. and U.S. economies."

WICKLOW NOTES from Tommy Dover

Coaster visitors this week included KORALLE, UNION DIAMOND and POLAR SUN. The Commissioner of Irish Lights tender GRANUAILE was also noted working in the area early in the week anchoring overnight in the bay. Traffic through the bay included SUPERFERRY southbound after having a refit at Dublin.


The Museum will be officially opened by HRH the Duke of York. The Museum will be closed on this day until 15:00 when the museum will remain open until 18:00 -entrance will be free. 

The replica HM Bark ENDEAVOUR will be visiting from 28 - 31 March and will be berthed alongside the Museum.   


The Barrow based ship owner and maritime services group reported a 20% increase in pre tax profits for 2003.

James Fisher's pre-tax profit increased 20.3% to £9.7m from £8.1m in 2001,
while earnings per share increased by an impressive 31.9% to 21.11p from 16.01p.

Chairman Tim Harris said 2002 was a good year both in terms of financial performance and in establishing the company as a marine service provider. "Our marine service division is well set to become the leading and most profitable in the company, through organic growth and the acquisitions we have made."

The company is looking for further deals to further develop its maritime services division Mr. Harris stating "Our aim is simple - to be the UK's leading provider of marine services. This will enable James Fisher to continue its exceptional and proven cash generating ability and
earnings growth in the coming years."

James Fisher also sees fleet renewal as a priority, especially as far as the older 3,000 tonne vessels are concerned

"With the benefit of the new tonnage tax, we expect to achieve this by
taking on more bareboat charters avoiding the need to commit new capital,"
Mr. Harris said.

James Fisher's expansion plans are underpinned by its free cash-flow which totalled £13m in 2002 and helped bring net gearing down to 58% from 82%. However, Mr. Harris said Fisher would consider using its shares "for the right deal at the right price".


Mike O'Brien has added four downloadable movie clips of the Stena Europe at Fishguard to his web site.


One of the three ferries which operate on the busy River Tamar Crossing between Torpoint and Devonport will be withdrawn from service for three weeks for its three yearly refit from Tuesday February 11. 

From Torpoint, a 15-minute service will operate between 06:30 and 21:30 from Monday to Friday, with a half-hourly service leaving on the hour and half-hour at night seven days a week. At weekends, a 15-minute service will operate from 06:45 to 21.30.

From Devonport, a 15-minute service will operate from 06:45 to 21.30 Monday to Friday, with a 30-minute service at quarter past and quarter to the hour from 21:45 to 06:45. The weekend service runs every 15 minutes from 07:00  to 09:30 and every 30 minutes from 21:45 to 07:00.

Ferry operations manager Tony Whetton said: "Any inconvenience caused during this period is much regretted."


An article in the Sunday Times on March 09 gave a positive outlook for the future despite recent problems:

Sharewatch: Ferry group not out of troubled waters It's not been plain sailing at ICG after the foot-and-mouth scare but now is the time to pick up shares, writes Ciaran Hancock

Irish Continental Group (ICG), which operates Irish Ferries, has had to navigate through choppy waters over the past few years. Eamonn Rothwell, its chief executive, has been forced to battle with the devastating effects of foot-and-mouth disease, which effectively closed Ireland to incoming traffic for a period in 2001, a slowing economy and a tailing off in tourist numbers. It also lost duty-free sales in 2000 and has
seen oil prices rise sharply over this period. With three profit warnings since March 2000, the company is certainly not a risk-free investment.

These negative developments have hit the company at a time when it was engaged in fleet modernisation; Ulysses, the world's largest car ferry, was launched on the Dublin-Holyhead route almost two years ago at a cost of €100m.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Irish Ferries is now regarded as the clear market leader in the corridors between Ireland to Britain.

This position was helped when Cenargo International, owner of Merchant Ferries, which operated on the Dublin-Liverpool route, went into administration. This led to some reduction of capacity on the route, which
in turn should offset Stena's decision to increase capacity on the Dublin-Holyhead.

ICG also has what many analysts claim is the most modern fleet of any European ferry carrier, leaving it well placed to benefit from any growth in the market over the medium term.

Irish Ferries now operates three passenger/ro-ro ferries and one fast craft on two routes between Ireland and Britain and one route to France. It also has two ferries on charter to P&O under long-term deals worth €70m over five years.

ICG will report its 2002 results tomorrow. NCB, the company's broker, is forecasting that earnings per share will recover by 71% to 80.5c, reflecting the recovery from the foot-and-mouth scare in 2001. While turnover is
projected to fall by 7.9% to €321m, pre-tax profit is expected to show a
rise of 150% from €9m to €22.5m.

Shareholders can expect a 20% increase in the dividend payment to 20.5 cent per share, according to NCB.

NCB also estimates that car carryings rose by 3.5% in 2002, although this level is still 2.5% below the figure for 2000, which was pre-foot and mouth and the economic downturn.

Freight volumes, however, are expected to be sluggish. The broker predicts a decline in this area of 0.2% for the year, reflecting the impact from the slowing economy.


ICG's ability to generate strong cash flows is of most interest to analysts, particularly at a time when management buyouts have become so prevalent.

Both NCB and Merrion Stockbrokers believe that ICG is capable of generating €40m in free cash flow each year for the next five years. In 2002, this allowed the group to buy back 8% of its shares at a cost of €16m while also reducing its debt burden by €25m to €162m.

Merrion believes that this cash flow will continue to be used for further share buybacks and to pay down debt. But John Mattimoe, analyst with Merrion, also believes that it could support an MBO, led by Rothwell, who
owns 7.5% of the equity and is no stranger to the markets, having previously worked with NCB as head of equities.

Mattimoe says a take-out price of €10-€12 "looks feasible" while still allowing attractive returns for the buyers. ICG is currently trading at €7.05 and it has a market capitalisation of €174m.


Given its strong cash flow, ICG is a promising candidate to set sail for the private sector. Since last May, the share price has fallen by just under 20%, reflecting the difficult and cyclical trading environment in which it operates. But it also provides a good buying opportunity if you buy into the MBO possibility. At worst, there is a solid if not spectacular 3.5% forecast dividend yield for 2003.


Price: €7.40
Market value: €182m
Free float: 95%
Average daily volume: 333,000
Key shareholders: FMR Corp 11.4%; AIB plc and its subsidiaries 10.2%; Eamonn Rothwell 7.5%; Smith Barney 7.3%; Irish Life Assurance plc 6% 

Share performance: since Dec 31 2002: -1% Dec 31 2001: 10.2
Earnings forecast: Dec 2003 91c; Dec 04 107.4c (source: Merrion)
Pros P/E: 2003 8.1 x; 2004 6.9 x
Risk grade: 91 v 199 Irish average (Source: Risk Grades)
Risk ranking: 90% of Irish quoted companies are more risky

March 2

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Gwil Jones, Ian Collard, Edwin Wilmshurst and "other correspondents".


This week has proved to be particularly interesting for shipping enthusiasts on Merseyside with the appearance of Irish Ferries flagship ULYSSES on Merseyside as a consequence of berth damage at Holyhead. 

It is some years since Irish Ferries predecessor B&I Line abandoned the historic Liverpool - Dublin link in favour of the short sea crossing from Holyhead. However one must speculate if the recent appearance of ULYSSES on Merseyside might have been more than just a convenience following the berth damage at Holyhead. 

Given the current uncertainty at Cenargo and the end of that company's Dublin - Liverpool passenger service perhaps there could be scope for an Irish Ferries presence on Merseyside?  


I am currently investigating the provision of day and mini cruise excursion facilities on scheduled passenger services primarily in the area covered by Irish Sea Shipping with a view to tabulating the information for easy reference. 

The source of this information will mainly be from web sites. These unfortunately these do not always promote day / mini cruise excursion fares which are sometimes advertised and promoted locally. 

If you are aware of excursion fares either of the landing or non-landing type which are not promoted on the web please email . It is important that you also include details of any terms and conditions applicable for such fares if known.


Regular visitors to the site may have noted that there was a significant gap in Ian Collard's contributions to the Irish Sea Shipping site since January. Ian has been globe trotting and visiting Malaya and Australia. As a way of a change from the usual Irish Sea material you will find photos of Spirit of Tasmania and the ferries of Penang in the World Shipping photo section. Those of us used to  the ferries which ply short routes around these islands the Penang ferries do look most unusual.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

DIAMANT is expected to depart Dover for the Mersey on March 2, calling at Falmouth for bunkers. Her first sailing from Liverpool will be on the evening departure to Douglas on March 6. DIAMANT will commence sailings on the Dublin route on March 7.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN departed from Birkenhead on Thursday evening crossing to Prince's Landing Stage to take on bunkers before sailing for Belfast where she was due to commence operation on the Belfast - Troon route on March 1.


ULYSSES Though it had been hoped that the normal Dublin - Holyhead schedule would be resumed with the 21:35 sailing from Dublin on Thursday a problem with the berth mean that she diverted to Birkenhead's Twelve Quays - arriving on Friday morning and sailing in the afternoon.

JONATHAN SWIFT operated a light sailing from Dublin at 03:00 to pick up the stranded ULYSSES passengers departing Holyhead at 05:45. This resulted in the 06:15 sailing being retimed to 08:00 with the return sailing from Holyhead departing 10:40. Weather conditions resulted in the cancellation of the 12:15 from Dublin and 15:15 return sailing thus enabling the vessel to catch up on her schedules.


Having left Fenit, Co. Kerry on Sunday, February 16th, the Jeanie Johnston arrived safely at her first landfall, and berthed at Funchal, Madeira on Friday February 28th.

The crew will have some rest over the week-end and prepare to continue on to Tenerife, en-route to the United States.

The weather encountered on the voyage to-date has been extreme, with the crew often battling through gale force winds. Despite the difficult passage, captain and crew - permanent and trainees - are well and in good spirits. They expect to depart on March 2 or 3, bound for Tenerife in the
Canary Islands en route to West Palm Beach, Florida.



The Mersey Docks Group's Twelve Quays Roll-on Roll-off River Terminal in the Port of Liverpool has won a major civil engineering award.

The £25 million development was "Highly Commended" in the Merit Award 2003 of the Institution of Civil Engineers North West Region "for an outstanding example of a civil engineering project completed in 2002".

Out of a list of 10 nominations it was pipped for the top accolade only by the Commonwealth Games Stadium in Manchester.

Mersey Docks Chief Engineer Tim Bownes was delighted but not surprised by the commendation. "Twelve Quays is like a civil engineers' theme park - there is something of just about every element of the discipline in it," he said. "It is particularly gratifying to win the award against a background of so much civil engineering which is currently being undertaken in the North West Region."

The Institution also acknowledged the roles of Bullen Consultants Limited as Principal Designer and AMEC as Principal Contractor.

The criteria for the award encompassed all aspects of civil engineering including innovation and the use of novel construction techniques, project management and safety issues.

The scheme called for the construction of a river berth in a hostile marine environment and an innovative approach to construction risk which was applied to the filling in of a dock to create a large trailer marshalling area.

Twelve Quays River Terminal was developed on a 35 acre (14 hectare) site including Wallasey Dock which was filled in using 320,000 tonnes of sand dredged from Liverpool Bay and pumped ashore.

"We could have opted for the cosy solution of filling in Wallasey Dock with sand and then waiting another 5 years for it to settle," said Tim Bownes. "Instead, we adopted a system of surcharging, vertical drainage, monitoring and maintenance which enabled us to achieve the same settlement in 3 months."

Twelve thousand tonnes of roller compacted concrete which has been tried and tested in the US but never applied on a large scale in Britain, was used across the rest of the terminal. "It was a cost effective application which made its own contribution to the rapid construction programme," added Tim Bownes.

More than 100,000 tonnes of mainly rock was removed from the river bed to increase the depth of water to 7.5 metres below chart datum. Seven mooring dolphins were planted off each berth. Another 24 piles of between 30 and 37 metres in length were sunk into the river and on land to restrain the 1,200 tonne floating pontoon and support the approach bridge, which at 80 metres long and 450 tonnes in weight, is the biggest linkspan in the UK.


The following warships are expected to take part in  the Battle of the Atlantic 60th Anniversary Commemoration event over the May Bank holiday weekend - May 3 to 5.

Some vessels will berth at Albert Dock and Birkenhead Docks and be open to the public [13:30 to 17:00], though the aircraft carrier HMS INVINCIBLE which replaces HMS OCEAN will berth mid river will not be open to the public.

HMS INVINCIBLE, aircraft carrier
HMS WALNEY,  Sandown Class Minehunter
HMS BITER and HMS CHARGER, fast patrol craft 
BNS MYOSOTIS,  Flower Class Minehunter - Belgium
FS LATOUCHE-TREVILLE, Georges Leygues Class Guided Missile Destroyer - France
FGS SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN, Brandenburg Class Frigate - Germany
HNLMS SCHIEDAM, Alkmaar Class Minehunter - Netherlands
HN0MS TRONDHEIM, Oslo Class Frigate - Norway
ORP KASZUB, corvette - Poland

It is interesting that the Polish corvette [erroneously described as a Frigate on the official web site] ORP KASZUB will be attending. She appears to turn up regularly at maritime festivals and events having been at Plymouth Navy Days 2002 as well as attending the BA50 commemorations in 1993.

There will also be static displays open daily from 10:00 to 17:00. River and Air Displays by the Royal Commando Display Team and RAF will take place between 13:30 and 15:30 each day.


Having passed its Maritime Coast Guard Inspection with flying colours, the ferry is once again making daily crossings of the River Fal at Trelissick.

Managing director Tim Light, said: "We are nursing, at great expense, this old girl until such time as we can get the new ferry built. The most important thing is to thank the contractors and crew for all their hard work and our customers for their patience."

The ferry, which deals with ever-growing levels of traffic, increasingly has to undergo major works to maintain reliable service. In this year's annual refurbishment, one of the 940ft chains had to be replaced and counterbalancing weights on the Feock side had to be repaired.

Mr Light said contractors and crew had worked seven days a week to ensure the ferry was ready to come off the slipway two weeks after work began.

He also commended the crew on their hard work in 2002. Through regular, planned maintenance not a single hour of service had been lost due to mechanical failure.

"The service is playing a major part in keeping the traffic flowing between the east and west of the county, and last year carried 45 emergency vehicles to incidents on the Roseland Peninsula and beyond," he said.

He predicted 2003 would be another record breaking year. Traffic was already up by seven per cent for January, compared to previous years. But increased tariffs for commercial users would remain.

Last year, the ferry company increased prices for commercial users in an effort to discourage use. Management regretted the action but said it was unavoidable to ensure the current ferry lasted until a new one could be built.

Now the ferry company is considering imposing a weight restriction on commercial vehicles due to increased wear and tear on the deck. The company also plans to take on additional staff in the late spring and summer to help manage the increasing traffic.

Anyone interested in applying for a position should contact Tim Light on 01872 862312.



On Saturday March 1 the MCGA announced that Severe lightning storms  in Cornwall had brought about damage to some of the communications systems in the operations room of Falmouth Coastguard. 

All essential services are being undertaken jointly by Falmouth and Falmouth’s flanking stations at Brixham, Milford Haven and Swansea, including receiving maritime distress calls or 999 calls.

Auxiliary coastguard are currently manning all the remote aerial sites for Falmouth which can maintain radio communication with the Falmouth operations room.

Engineers are working today to complete the repairs and Falmouth Coastguard hope to resume normal lines of communication later this evening.



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